Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino has refused to confirm if an election integrity panel was given access to confidential Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) documents that allege China interfered in the last two federal elections. These allegations include providing support to 11 candidates, mostly Liberals, in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in the 2019 election and using tactics to enable the Liberals to return to power with a minority government following the 2021 election.
In a Feb. 19 interview with The West Block program on Global News, Mendicino said the review panel members “look at the information that they need to make the assessment around the integrity of the elections. … They get the access that they need to the information that is required to come to those conclusions.” He also stated that the panel, “made up of independent, non-partisan public servants,” conducted a review and came to the conclusion that the results of the 2019 and 2021 elections were “free and fair.”
Mendicino added that the government had taken steps to protect the Canadian economy, including banning federal funding for research projects with Chinese military institutions, and would continue to take any steps necessary. He said the government is “taking very aggressive action to deal with the threats” and is “transparent” about doing so.
Following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments to the media on Feb. 17 that election interference “is not a new phenomenon,” Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre alleged that Trudeau had been “covering up the interference of the authoritarian regime in Beijing.” According to secret and top-secret CSIS documents covering the period before and after the September 2021 election, Beijing used tactics that sought to defeat Conservative MPs considered critical of China and to ensure the Liberals formed only a minority government.
In September 2021, an analysis by a federal research unit said researchers had documented the Chinese regime’s use of Chinese-language social media to spread a narrative that the Conservatives would drastically curtail ties with Beijing if they are elected to power.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.